WHEN THE GOING GETS TOUGH THE TOUGH GO SHOPPING
The city's young designers -- who allow New Yorkers to exercise their inalienable right not to shop at chain stores -- are in trouble. They own small boutiques, financed by loans, that they man themselves. And they're almost entirely dependent on foot traffic. So start marching. "I'm pretty worried," says Anne Johnston of Martin, on East 6th Street. "There were a lot of people on the weekend, but we didn't really sell anything."
"We opened in June and everything was going so well," says Andrew Paluba, whose store, ASP, is on Mulberry Street. "If it continues like this, I don't know how long we can last." Paluba and his partners have planned a benefit for October 2 -- a shopping night with a portion of the proceeds going to the Twin Towers Fund.
In TriBeCa, the situation is even worse. Issey Miyake was forced to reschedule the September opening of his Frank Gehry-designed New York flagship, on the corner of Hudson and North Moore (it's now slated for October 15). Neighborhood retailers hope the titanium-filled destination lures people back into smaller shops like Jimin Lee, on White Street, which opened last year. "You can't even imagine," says Kai Schneider, Lee's business partner. "When you're a new designer, you're starting with a baby, and a baby needs to grow. If you get cut off . . . well, we have to see what we're going to do for the future."
Some retailers, however -- particularly furniture stores -- see a light at the end of the tunnel. "People were calling me and expressing their sympathies," says Michael Corchado, the manager of Room on Duane Street. "But then they wanted to know, 'So where's my couch?' "
GIVE WHAT YOU'RE GOOD AT
The glamour jobs in this disaster -- shoveling rubble, say, or operating heavy equipment, or being mayor -- seem to be spoken for. But Walter Mitty-ish accountants -- and even lawyers -- can be every bit as heroic by wielding their own particular talents (hard hats not included).
Lawyers: The Association of the Bar of the City of New York's Legal Referral Service (212-626-7373 or www.ilawyer.com) is offering free legal advice for people and small businesses affected by the disaster. On October 2, attorneys who want to help can be trained in all facets of disaster-relief benefits. "The families are just completely overwhelmed," says managing attorney Bridget Fleming, "and they need someone to walk them through all the legal questions they have." Attorneys are also needed at the National Employment Law Project (212-285-3025) and the Legal Aid Society's Health Law Unit (718-422-2777).
Shrinks: The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill's local chapter has a list of counseling services online (www.nami-nyc-metro.org); volunteers may call 212-684-3365.
Accountants: Public Benefits Resource Center is training volunteers to help victims' families navigate the government's byzantine system of food stamps, Medicaid, Child Health Plus, public assistance, Social Security, and unemployment -- not to mention how to access disaster benefits from family-assistance centers, fema, small-business-association grants and loans, and the Crime Victims Board. Call Yvette Rennie (212-614-5550) to get a schedule of the classes.
Architects and designers: The local AIA and International Interior Design Association (IIDA) chapters are planning coordinated volunteer efforts to help with relocation efforts for businesses and residents, as well as furniture donations. Go to www.iida.org.
Typists and programmers: Finding people to answer the phones hasn't been a problem, but "the one thing we had trouble with is straight data entry," says Glenda Williams, who helps run the Emergency Employment Clearinghouse Program -- hotlines set up in ten locations by the Consortium for Worker Education, the New York City Partnership, and the New York City Central Labor Council. The program is arranging temporary jobs and welcomes calls from both employers with jobs to offer and workers in need. (The hotline for job seekers is 212-558-2261; the one for employers is 212-558-2250). The Labor Support Center Hotline (volunteers call 212-684-8142) also needs help setting up databases to catalogue callers, job information, and data on emergency assistance. "We're trying to get people to the right agencies depending on their needs," says coordinator Julie Kelly.
Organizational pros: Food for Survival, the city's food bank, has 11 million pounds of food to distribute in the wake of the disaster. Now they need to make sure it's handed out in a responsible way. Outside of ground zero, the group has 1,200 programs around the city to tend to, and it could use a few hundred helping hands. Call 866-nyc-food.
BE AMERICAN, BUY ARAB-AMERICAN
Arab-American restaurateurs hung flags in their restaurants not just out of renewed patriotism but out of fear. Samer Halimeh, the owner of Bread From Beirut, a new diamond-district Lebanese restaurant (24 West 45th Street; 212-764-1588), says his deliverymen "were afraid to go out. They stopped wearing their T-shirts." Business is starting to pick up. But only takeout. "Even the Lebanese get their food to go," says Halimeh. "They think someone will shoot up the place."
From the sidewalk outside Alfanoose (150 Fulton Street; 212-349-3622), a Lebanese-Syrian takeout shop that makes the best -- and neatest -- falafel sandwich in town, you can see the black shell of 5 World Trade Center and the ruins of No. 7. "Business is down by about a third," says co-owner Mouhamad Shami. Many of his customers worked at the Trade Center, as he discovered when he recognized them among the missing posters. "I've made a lot of friends here," he says. "Now I've lost a lot."
SHOW SOME SCHOOL SPIRIT
Teachers are facing a daunting set of tasks, from consoling grieving children to helping their distracted charges prepare for Regent's exams. "On Staten Island alone, there are 200 children of firefighters," says Board of Education spokesman Askia Davis. Meanwhile, downtown schools have been displaced -- Stuyvesant's holed up at former rival Brooklyn Tech -- and asbestos tests and structural exams are required before buildings can be reoccupied.
What can you do? If you're a parent, spend time at your school. Just your presence will reassure children, who, according to experts, often have a delayed reaction to traumatic events. Everybody else, get out your checkbook: Finney says principals and teachers have had "lengthy conversations with the folks from Oklahoma City and Columbine" on how to bring the kids through this. Mainly, they've discovered that everything -- from combating anxiety to making up for lost class time -- costs money. Donate to the Fund for Public Schools -- WTC School Relief Fund, 110 Livingston Street, Room 826, Brooklyn, NY 11201, or call 800-459-5545.
Children can take part in the Twin Towers Penny Harvest, sponsored by Americans for Common Cents. Schools will be collecting coins over the next month, and a committee will decide how best to allocate the money (212-579-0579).
Mentoring USA (212-253-1194) is developing programs at more than 60 locations throughout the city to help kids with grief and conflict resolution. Art-therapy specialists and child psychologists are especially needed.